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Comment Re:Unfettered capitalism (Score 1) 639

The DMCA isn't good, but there are lots of farm equipment manufacturers, auto companies, etc that don't sue their customers. The difference between Saab and John Deere in this case is that John Deere is going out of its way to behave in an unethical manner and screw its customers over.

What I'm really arguing against is this subtle subtext that says John Deere's actions are the fault of the government, and that if only the government wasn't around this kind of crap wouldn't be happening. A long history of anti-competitive, anti-consumer behavior by corporations that think they can get away with it says otherwise. Repeal the DMCA, but also create legislation protecting the consumer's right to repair, modify, sell, and otherwise control equipment that they legally purchased.

Comment Re:Data gathering? (Score 1) 174

You should read Charles Stross' "Halting State". Forget data gathering, AR apps can be used to get people to do useful tasks for you, for free! Need someone to scope out a target of interest? Make it an objective in the game for them to take a picture of the area. Need someone to deliver a message or carry information discreetly? Make it part of the game, and give them points when the message is successfully dropped off.

Controlling a popular AR game would allow you to create mobs on demand. This is limited only by the imagination.

Comment Re:Unfettered capitalism (Score 1) 639

No, if the DMCA did not exist, open-market service people couldn't be hauled into court for hacking around whatever DRM Deere were to put on its tractors.

The DMCA doesn't help things, certainly, but nothing is forcing John Deere to abuse the laws and their customers this way. Plenty of unethical corporate behavior can happen even if there isn't a convenient legal framework to take advantage of. My main point is this: a specific piece of law might be contributing to this problem, but that doesn't mean that the solution is deregulation. We've already got a corporation that has demonstrated it will prioritize profit over its customers, and removing regulations, many of which involve consumer protections, isn't the solution. Instead, we need legislation in favor of the consumer, to protect their rights to do what they wish with equipment that they own.

Of course, repealing the DMCA would be a welcome step as well.

Comment Re:Unfettered capitalism (Score 1) 639

The hell are you talking about? Try reading comprehension. The government doesn't prevent anybody from creating a competing business (as evidenced by the fact that there are, in fact, many competitors to John Deere, some of which treat their customers well and make their equipment easy to service). If the government is responsible for anything here, it's that it has failed to hold unethical companies accountable for anti-competitive, anti-consumer practices.

Comment Re:Unfettered capitalism (Score 1) 639

My point is not that competing with John Deere would be easy - it is hard, but not mainly because of anything the government is doing. Sure, the DMCA is shitty, but if it didn't exist John Deere could still design proprietary, closed systems and refuse to sell repair manuals or spare parts. There are lots of corporations out there engaging in similar anti-competitive behavior. What is really needed is better consumer protections that ensure a user's right to modify and repair their belongings regardless of what the corporation wants them to do.

Comment Re: Unfettered capitalism (Score 3, Informative) 639

Enforcing that is your choice as a corporation. You don't have to design proprietary, closed equipment and then prosecute those who try to repair it themselves. As evidenced by the fact that there are manufacturers out there that design open, accessible products that are user-friendly and easy to service.

Comment Re:Unfettered capitalism (Score 2) 639

The laws are written in a way that mostly benefits the corporations and largest businesses - they're being given protection from the upstarts that would swing in and provide cheaper/better/faster solutions by the government.

How? Give me an example of how the government is preventing someone new from competing in the tractor business. Because I've started more than one business, and the government barriers amount to about $50 of registration fees and 20 minutes registering the business online. The far bigger barriers are that John Deere has immense brand recognition, distribution and maintenance infrastructure, manufacturing facilities, and who knows how many other advantages that have nothing to do with the government but mean any competitor is going to have to be extraordinarily well funded to make a solid attempt at disruption.

The natural state of a market is that entrenched players have a massive advantage, and can use that massive advantage to keep any competitors from becoming a threat. When you're talking about manufacturing heavy machinery, this isn't something where any schmo off the street can just start selling tractors without licensing BS. The barriers that exist to competing in this industry have nothing to do with government.

Comment Re:Interesting quote in article (Score 1) 237

ATK, ULA, Orbital, AR, and many others are struggling to adapt to the new market. The thing is, though, for the purpose of these companies, Newspace basically is SpaceX - in a few years the situation may be different with Blue Origin and others, but currently SpaceX is the one and only company that's actually launching payloads for serious customers.

My point is that what separates Oldspace from Newspace isn't just the COTS, fixed-price model. That's a step in the right direction, but what really sets these new companies apart are their ideology - all the older companies exist primarily to turn a profit, and selling aerospace hardware is how they do it, whereas many of the new companies (or at least SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Planetary Resources) exist primarily to make space accessible to the masses, and profit is a means to that end.

Comment Re:Interesting quote in article (Score 1) 237

The difference is:

Old Space = "cost plus" contracts - Whoops, we've gone over the budget, but keep paying us until we're done!

New Space = fixed-price contracts - Whoops, our rocket went RUD from a bad strut, now we have to launch another one without you giving us more money!

Slight correction - on fixed price contracts, the contractor doesn't have to pay when a launch fails - that's covered by insurance either way.

The important thing is that on a fixed price, the launch provider gets more profit if they reduce launch costs and schedules. On cost-plus, the provider is incentivized to have cost overruns and schedule slips.

And more important than all of that is that we have ideologically driven billionaires competing to make space cheaper - SpaceX is tremendously affordable (~25% the price of competitors) not just because of COTS, but because Musk is trying to build all the infrastructure for a Mars colony in his lifetime. A more pragmatic company would be 90% of the competitor's price, and would be sitting back and enjoying the profits rather than dumping them all right back into develpment of insanely ambitious new vehicles.

Comment Re:Only one Twitter hashtag is appropriate for thi (Score 0) 202

Just wanted to say sorry for the internet douchebags out there giving you shit. It's easy for people who have been thin for life to see it as a discipline issue, but there's lots of research showing that the regularly recommended starvation strategies actually lead to no benefit over time or even weight gain because of the body's permanent decrease in metabolic rates.

Comment Better than government by rich charismatic lawyers (Score 1) 609

Statistically speaking, we are currently governed mostly by lawyers. Oh, and the rich. If you are a rich, charismatic lawyer, your future as a politician is bright.

Of course scientists aren't perfectly rational. But do you think they are better at making policy decisions than what we currently have? Or more objective than the topmost 0.1% of the rich who have never depended on a paycheck? Just demanding supporting evidence would be a huge improvement over how policy is currently set: by debates that are little more than an extensive survey of the various logical fallacies, and by forming coalitions of selfish lawmakers who are either getting personal kickbacks or pork for their home district.

Besides, for everybody who is panicking that scientists will lead us to some sort of horror novel society where ethics are forgotten, scientific thinking makes you more moral.

The question isn't whether Tyson's Rationalia would be perfect - it's whether it would be better than our current government which amounts to groupthink among advantaged narcissists. The answer seems pretty clear to me. Let's elect some more scientists and engineers, and let's demand the same burden of proof on policymakers that we expect of middle school science fair projects.

Comment Roku (Score 1) 226

Roku has been mentioned many times, but one thing I like in particular with the Roku (and that is unique, as far as I know) is that you can do a media search for something like a video rental and then compare prices from several different providers - Amazon Prime vs Google Play vs others. Overall it's been a very solid experience.

Comment Re: WTF? (Score 1) 760

Wealth redistribution forced by Government is not inherent. Distribution via barter for goods and services - yes. At the point of a gun with threat of jail - no.

Define wealth redistribution. If we observe that one group of people is consistently gaining wealth, while the other groups are maintaining or losing wealth, is that not direct evidence that wealth is being redistributed?

Here's what's going on: The rich have built a society that SYSTEMATICALLY removes money from the lower and middle class and gives it to the rich. When the lower classes unite (via democracy) to try to adjust the system to end this redistributionism, the rich create a narrative via their political puppets (the republicans) to claim that anything other than this regulation in favor of the rich is immoral. Do you see what's happening here? You're making a distinction between the government redistributing wealth directly (by tax policy) or indirectly (by regulation that favors the rich and moves money their way discreetly). And you're claiming that it's not ok in the first case, but is ok in the latter case. Why? In a truly equal society, it ought to be a meritocracy, such that people who work hard and have good ideas move upward. Social mobility is declining, though. Inequality is increasing. We're moving more and more towards a caste system, where your lifestyle is determined almost entirely by who your parents were, and who your grandparents were, and so on. By arguing against government intervention, you are saying that this is how things ought to be.

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